Spaniard claims his third Volta overall classification win after getting safely through wet, dangerous final day - three wins to cap a fantastic comeback into top racing.
Alejandro Valverde and the Movistar Team took a brilliant 69th Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana to a good end in the streets of the region’s capital on Sunday. The Telefónica-backed squad flawlessly protected its team leader during the 135km stage five, from Paterna to Valencia, with a dangerous bunch sprint defining the day’s result. Jurgen Roelandts (BMC) took the win, as all GC contenders remained together in the main bunch.
That way, Valverde confirmed his overall win in the race -with Astana duo Luis León Sánchez and Jakob Fuglsang joining the Spaniard on the podium– and secured his third GC success in the race, after previous victories in 2004 –no less than 14 years ago– and 2007. The man from Murcia and his team-mates round off a fantastic win, after ‘Bala’ won stages in Albuixech (Thursday) and Las Canteras, Cocentaina (Saturday).
It’s Alejandro’s 111st success as a professional cyclist, as well as his first stagerace victory of the season, ten months away from the last one –the 2017 Vuelta al País Vasco– and seven months after his horrible cras in the Tour de France, one that was very near to putting end to his career.
REACTION, Alejandro Valverde:
“This victory is a reward to the great, hard work we did during the last few months with my recovery. That’s why I’m so happy, because I know where I come from and everything I had to go through in order to bounce back from such a serious crash and injuries I sustained. It’s quite different, this feeling, from the one when I won the race for the first time, 14 years ago. This time I’m coming back from a very serious injury, a seven-month period without any racing, and it’s really comforting to see I’m doing as well as I did or even better. I had many things to show yet in 2004. Now I’ve done everything I could in cycling, even though I keep the same love and excitement towards this sport.
“This victory goes to all of my team-mates. I want to thank them because they were phenomenal all week. Also to all the people who has helped and supported me during the seven months before this comeback. Seeing how I was doing in Mallorca, I knew I could contest the overall win, and my attack on stage two really made me realise I was on the right path to chase that win. I held some doubts before Mallorca about how my knee would keep up after several days of racing, but in those hard, rainy conditions we had last week, it reacted well. Even more so here. We’ve had rain at all five days in Valencia, as well as cold temperatures, tough climbs – happily, everything went great. My next races? Next weekend, at my home race in the Vuelta a Murcia and the Clásica de Almería, followed by the Abu Dhabi Tour later this month.”
Picture (c): Photo Gomez Sport